Glaw Lake, Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh:
Glaw or Glow Lake is a natural lake located deep inside the Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve, Lohit District, Arunachal Pradesh. I had been planning to trek to this lake for the past one year. The few videos on Youtube had me in doubt regarding the physical demand the trek would require. The videos show a lot of hard trekking in deep jungles and hills of around 20 kms which really drain out a person. However, a long weekend in February made me go for this trek as in summer time the trek becomes more difficult with mud and leeches. Partner in adventure:
I asked my office colleague, Karran to join me on this journey. Preparations:
For a trek of around 20 kms (one way) one must have a certain minimum level of fitness. I have been regular at the gym for the past few months doing mostly compound movements and was satisfied with my fitness levels. Karan, my colleague is a natural hardy fellow and was confident about the trip. The duty of food was left to Karan while I sorted out the permits, route etc. We tried to keep the weight of our bags as low as possible and brought only the bare basic essentials with us.
We contacted the Deputy Ranger of Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary, Shri Miyan Pramod Singh and he helped us in all possible manner. He arranged the guide for us, Shri Balem Somam- another gem of a person and helped us with the necessary permits for entering and camping at Glaw Lake. Pasighat to Wakro:
We started from Pasighat for our destination of the day, Wakro which serves as the entry point to Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary. We had booked our stay at Sejal Homestay which I had visited on an earlier occasion as well. Good roads
The drive was smooth and eventless with very good roads. We picked up some local rice pithas at Silluk Village for our trek the following day. We also bought from not-so-tasty oranges from Roing- serves us right for not buying them from Pasighat or Dambuk.
At Wakro, the Deputy Ranger, Shri Miyan Pramod Singh handed us our permits even late in the evening and asked us to meet him in the morning in the office where we would meet our Forest Department guide, Shri Balem Somam.
At Sejal Homestay, the food was awesome with chicken and vegetables. We ate so much that it kept us full even the next day on our way to Glaw Lake. The lady of the homestay advised us to carry some Agarbattis and sweets to offer to the Deity of Kamlang/ Glaw on our trek. Accordingly, we bought some from the lone shop open at Wakro at 9 in the evening. I also selected a traditional dress of the local community, Miju Mishimi for my wife who had given permission for this journey. So sweets for the Kamlang deity and dress for the home deity. Trek to Glaw Lake:
We woke up early and reported at the Rangerís Office and met our guide- the ever smiling and helpful Balem Somam. He wanted to carry some of our luggage as he was travelling light- this we couldnít agree on and every man must carry his own stuff.
We started driving to the start of the trekking point and met our first obstacle of the day- a tree fallen on the road. We three soon cleared it up and soon started our trek. The trek is usually done in 6 hours by locals and forest department officials. Karan and I added another 2 hours to this timeline: we ultimately completed it in 6 hours as well (not bad for newbies like us).
The trek starts off in a pleasing manner with the hoolock gibbons welcoming (or not) us in their territory. We would not meet another human for the next 2 days. We soon came across a cliff with a precarious looking narrow path with flimsy bamboo poles as railings meant to break onesís fall. I thought it would be comical to abandon the trek at such an early point and somehow crossed this obstacle. Kamlang Tiger Reserve welcomes us Lights and shadows
We reached the Champa bridge- a hanging bridge over the Kamlang river. It looks a bit scary and I think it needs some maintenance. The uphill climb through narrow trail starts from this point- this taxed our heart and legs quite a lot but we trudged on. Balem, our guide was very happy with our pace and said we were quite fast on this hard route- quite the compliment coming from a Forest Official.
We saw a couple of hornbills and also heard quite a few making helicopter type sounds as they flew above us. Champa bridge over Kamlang river
Over the years, I have come to appreciate the simple joy of walking through a forest or trekking up a mountain track. The mind seems to be freed of the daily worries and just remains blissful.
We came to the place where locals offer their prayers in the jungle. It was quite windy and as I lit the match for the agarbattis the wind suddenly died down. It felt like some sign and as soon as the agarbattis were lit the wind came back. Offering our prayers and gratitude.
Our guide told us how the lake is quite choosy about whom to show itself to. It seems that a former minister of the state wanted to land using a chopper at the lake. He tried three times but inclement weather drove him away on all the occasions.
We had a lunch break at Kalai forest camp comprising of bread, butter, eggs and a fresh robab tenga (pomelo) from a nearby tree. Kalai serves as a halting station if it gets too late. Before declaration as a wildlife sanctuary and tiger reserve, there used to be a village here- Kalai. Now the villagers have shifted to Wakro.
After 6 hours of constantly climbing up and down- we arrived at the lake. I cannot describe how beautiful it looked- clear water stretching out to meet the mountains in the distance. It is a huge lake (150 ha) and cannot be seen in its entirety from a single point. Balem told us how the lake would hide behind mists and clouds for certain visitors. But we were truly blessed to be seeing this beautiful part of nature. Karan and I just flopped down on the ground trying to soak in what we were witnessing. First view Glaw Lake Beauty in all directions
There are two huts of the Forest department here- one for lodging and one for kitchen. The lodge has beds and bathrooms and the kitchen has cooking utensils and firewood. So finally, after a tough trek of 6 hours/ 20 kms we three were finally at Glaw lake deep within a tiger reserve with the next human being equally far away.
While I tested my meager camera skills, Karan gave full expression to his culinary skills. First on the menu was maggi with a little bit of spice and the pithas we had brought from Silluk. Balem started cooking some rice and Karan took some fresh lai patta (mustard greens) from the compound and whipped up the tastiest smoked chicken lai patta dish I have ever had. I doubt we lost any weight even with all the hard trekking. Smoked chicken with Lai patta
As night fell, we lit a small bonfire and listened to the music coming from the forest- a bird, a deer and maybe some jungle cat. The stars enveloped us in a shiny blanket and I thanked all the Gods for letting me come to this place. A mithun came to us for some salt as well. A fire and nature for company
Balem told us about his life at his village Kathan where he is constructing a home- with his own hands. He saws the wood himself and is an expert mason. We understood from him the importance of family and extended family among the tribal communities. While most of our communities are going nuclear, here we appreciated the importance of keeping close ties even with far off relatives. A sky full of stars Truly grateful for being able to reach this place
We hit the beds in our sleeping bags and expected to sleep soundly. However, Karan had a spirit or ghost disturbing him from below the bed and he let out a deep growl which sounded very funny to me. We woke up Karan relieving him of his torment and then slept off. There is no electricity here- for the record. The morning:
I saw sunlight coming from between the wood panels of our hut and got out of bed to take some pictures. The scene before me looked straight out of a dream- mists about the water and the sun trying to break through. A view to savour
Karan prepared some rice for our return journey and we ate the leftover dinner as breakfast. As there were no people for 20 kms, I took a nice bath out in the open near a cold clear water stream with the warm sun on my back. Good morning Glaw Breaking through Glaw lake details
The return journey was tougher as it was mostly downhill with some loose gravel/ mud in some places. Combining that with the narrow trail- sometimes only wide enough for putting only one foot- and deep falls made for a somewhat scary experience.
We stopped near the banks of the Kamlang river and nearly dozed off as the cold wind and warm sun worked on us. The forest of Kamlang is beautiful with the sun playing hide and seek through the tree canopies. Also, it is quite windy which helped us stay fresh. Kamlang river
We completed the return trek in 5 hours and made our way to the Rangerís Office to provide our feedback. Gunin, Balem and Karan. Happy!
We returned via the same route we had come after a lunch break at Gunanagar.
Thank you for reading.